Summit aims to get young professionals involved

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As young people increasingly opt to settle in Pittsburgh instead of heading to a larger city after college, most will want to know the best ways to lay roots in a community.

For 20- and 30-something Pittsburghers who want to "make a splash in the community," volunteering is a great place to start, according to Tom Baker, founder and chief program officer of Get Involved!

"Get Involved! kind of stems from the idea that there's just as much for young professionals to do in the community, but they don't always know about it," he said.

The organization will host the Third Annual Pittsburgh Service Summit at 4 p.m. Wednesday to help match college and graduate students and young professionals with volunteer opportunities in the Pittsburgh region.

Mr. Baker created Get Involved! after writing "Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s" in 2008. The nonprofit hosts speaking events, happy hours and coffee meetings to encourage young people to become leaders in their community through volunteerism.

Mr. Baker works full-time as the chief community affairs officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, and he and all of the others who keep Get Involved! running are volunteers.

The summit on Wednesday will feature three keynote speakers and breakout sessions that will cover everything from mentoring and community building to social media and goal setting.

Mr. Baker said that while the summit is geared toward getting young adults involved in their communities, "any community leader or lifelong learner that wants to get exposed to positive people and share some new ideas" would be a good fit for the sessions.

Keynote speakers will be author and Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation President John Stahl-Wert, College Prowler CEO Luke Skurman, and Benjamin Wagner, senior vice president at MTV News and the filmmaker behind "Mister Rogers and Me," a documentary about children's television legend Fred Rogers.

Mr. Wagner, 40, spent more than a decade producing the documentary about Fred Rogers. He met the Pittsburgh-area legend when his family rented a cottage next to the Rogers family in Nantucket, Mass.

Mr. Wagner said Mr. Rogers exemplified "what being a neighbor means," and "when you really get right down to what constitutes being a neighbor," volunteering is it.

Mr. Wagner quoted Mr. Rogers: "There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

"To me, service starts there," Mr. Wagner said. He said that "every action has implications" and little things can make a big difference.

He said that his keynote speech during Wednesday's summit will be short because showing the documentary, which will be screened for summit participants, will be more effective.

"In a lot of ways, I'm just going to be setting it up," he said, noting that all he wants to do is spread Mr. Rogers' message:

"I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex."

The fee for the summit, to be held at Carlow University, is $25 but free for students. For more information on the summit or to register, visit

Annie Siebert: or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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